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Information Before You Order NSCAW

Please read this page to understand important information about obtaining the NSCAW General Release or NSCAW Restricted Release data.


There is no cost to order NSCAW data. Two different versions of the NSCAW data are available to members of the research community who meet eligibility criteria and agree to the requirements of the data license. The following materials have been developed by NDACAN staff in consultation with the Research Triangle Institute and the NSCAW Research Group, to permit dissemination of NSCAW Data to responsible researchers while satisfying concerns about respondent anonymity.

The least restrictive version is known as the NSCAW General Release Data. Identifying information and geographic detail have been removed from this version and variables posing a risk of respondent disclosure have been recoded to make identification of individuals unlikely. NDACAN recommends that researchers initially obtain the General Release Data when they are learning to use the NSCAW data.

If you plan to publish research results using NSCAW data, NDACAN highly recommends that researchers obtain the NSCAW Restricted version for publication-level research, not the General Release version. The General Release version is only suitable for gaining an understanding of the study structure and the required statistical methods, but the Restricted Release version has more data and greater research utility because geographic detail is present and fewer variables have been recoded. For more information about why the Restricted Release is recommended over than the General Release, please contact NDACAN.

As stated above, the Restricted Release version has more data and greater research utility. Geographic detail is present and fewer variables have been recoded, but this version presents a higher risk to respondent confidentiality. They are, therefore, only made available to researchers who can justify a need for high level access and who are willing to follow additional application requirements.

If you are unsure whether the NSCAW Restricted Release version contains variables that will address your research topic, please e-mail with your complete contact information in your signature to request the NSCAW Restricted Release documentation.

Eligibility to Obtain NSCAW Data

NSCAW General Release: these data are available to most researchers and requires submission of the NDACAN Terms of Use Agreement.

NSCAW Restricted Release: One requirement to obtain these data is that you be a researcher at an organization with an Institutional Review Board/Human Subjects Review Committee (IRB) that is registered with the U.S. Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP). The OHRP certifies institutions whose IRBs have met certain procedural criteria. NDACAN will handle on a case-by-case basis any requests by researchers from organizations without IRBs registered with OHRP. NDACAN will have full discretion in deciding whether a researcher meets eligibility criteria.

Please note: employees at child welfare agencies are not presently eligible to obtain any version of the NSCAW data.

Student Access

A student cannot order NSCAW Restricted data directly. A faculty member at the student's institution must order the data and serve as the Investigator for license purposes, and can designate the student as an additional researcher. The faculty member submits a Research Staff Form which, on NDACAN approval, allows the student to use the NSCAW Restricted Data. The faculty member and the institution bear full responsibility for ensuring that all conditions of the agreement are met by the student. NSCAW Restricted Data are licensed to individual researchers and their staff but cannot be used for a classroom.

NSCAW Restricted Data: Research Teams Consisting of Persons Employed at Different Institutions

Because the Investigator and the Receiving Institution are both parties to the Restricted Release Data Use License (PDF), multiple Licenses must be executed when members of a research team with access to the Restricted Data are employed by different organizations. A separate License must be executed and submitted by each organization involved in the project. For instance, when researchers employed at different universities collaborate on a research project and each project team requires direct access to the data, an Investigator must be designated at each Institution and each Institution must execute its own License. When an Investigator contracts with a firm to perform programming services using the data, both the Investigator's organization and the firm performing the programming must have separate Licenses.

When the project involves multiple organizations, the Restricted Release Data Use Licenses for each organization must be submitted to NDACAN together in a single package. This package should include a cover letter identifying the single Investigator who will serve as primary contact for the entire research team. This primary contact must serve as the Investigator (i.e., signatory to the License) in his or her employer's License. Other organizations involved in the project should designate the most senior team member (i.e., the team member that holds the greatest authority over other team members from that organization) as their organization's Investigator.

NSCAW File Format and Sizes

Data files are distributed in SPSS, SAS, and STATA compatible formats.
If you're ordering NSCAW Restricted Release, then you will receive both NSCAW RR I and II.

Approximate File sizes:

  • NSCAW I General Release: 2 Gigabytes
  • NSCAW II General Release: 1.02 Gigabytes
  • NSCAW I Restricted Release: 2.3 Gigabytes
  • NSCAW II Restricted Release: 1.2 Gigabytes

NSCAW Data Delivery

NSCAW General Release datasets are distributed through users will need to create a free account on to download the data within a time limit.
NSCAW Restricted Release datasets are distributed via Cornell University's proprietary secure Web download portal. Users will receive detailed instructions and a time-limited link to download the data.

NSCAW Restricted License Maintenance and Duration

The NSCAW license is a legal document created by NDACAN, RTI International, and Cornell University. No changes to the license language are permissible. On request, NDACAN can provide clarification on the meaning and scope of any section of the license.

To add research staff, submit the executed Research Staff Form (PDF). If you have a Restricted Release license, any revisions to your Data Protection Plan must be submitted for approval via e-mail attachment. Changes to your contact information or removal of supplemental research staff can be e-mailed to or phoned in (607-255-7799).

An NSCAW Restricted Release License lasts for 3 years, after which time you need to Replace or Terminate the license. Please follow the appropriate instructions:
Replacing or Terminating your NSCAW RESTRICTED Data License

Instructions for Ordering the NSCAW Data